17th October

For the most part there were slim pickings to be had on another mild and increasingly windy day, with new arrivals on the ground almost non-existent. Fortunately for the visitors the Yellow-browed Warblers at Avalanche Road (2) and Pennsylvania Castle/Wakeham, the Rose-coloured Starling at Reap Lane, the Hooded Crow at the Grove and the Black Guillemot off Portland Castle were all still about, whilst there was again some head-scratching to be had over an assortment of oddly-plumaged Lesser Black-backed Gull. Commoner migrants were very much the poor relation, with dreadful numbers of many species that really ought to be quite numerous at this stage of the autumn; minor interest came in the form of 6 Siskins, 2 Reed Warblers, 2 Bramblings and a Merlin at the Bill, 2 Arctic Skuas through on the sea there, another Merlin at Reap Lane and a Short-eared Owl at the Grove, whilst visible passage included a steady movement of up to 500 Linnets per hour over the Bill during the morning.

Singles of Olive-tree Pearl and Scarce Bordered Straw were the pick of the overnight immigrant moth catch at the Obs, where 28 Rusty-dot Pearl, 2 Silver Y and a Rush Veneer made up the rest of the tally.

Yellow-browed Warbler - Avalanche Road, 17th October 2104 © Duncan Walbridge

And continuing the seagull saga, today saw several reports of interesting-looking Lesser Black-backed Gulls. We were somewhat incredulous when we came across another Baltic Gull-lookalike at the same time and in exactly the same spot as yesterday's bird(s) (photos © Martin Cade):

Like yesterday's individual (it might not be apparent on these images but the two individuals do have several clear differences) this one appears to be in more or less complete summer plumage and shows no visible signs of having begun the post-breeding moult. To us it seems mightily implausible that you'd get two (or three if yesterday's juvenile were also one) Baltic Gulls at the Bill on consecutive days and we do wonder if a more likely explanation could be something along the lines of these birds being intermedius Lesser Black-backs from the far north of their range which are relatively long-distance migrants and thus might have a moult strategy more akin to Baltic Gull. Many thanks to Ian Lewington for having a look through these images with us and for sharing his thoughts.